Tell me about it
, Nov 29 2012 10:42 PM
6 replies to this topic
Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:42 PM
I know there are a few Hawaii fans here
I've never been and am toying with the idea for next year. It will possibly be myself and a 6 and 2 yr old. It's just for a relaxing holiday but a bit different to the usual Fiji/Bali/Phuket thing. I live in QLD so am over that too.
Who's the best airline to fly with?
I was thinking of just staying in Waikiki because it minimizes transfers and hassles for myself with 2 kids. I obviously won't be doing major shopping expeditions but are there decent shops close by? I'm in loyalty programs with Hyatt and Starwood (prefer Starwood due to status) but will look at other places if they are better.
Are things within easy walking distance? I'm thinking shops and non resort dining?
What other attractions would the kids enjoy? I was thinking Pearl Harbour from a history point of view but would it be suitable for the young ones? I wanted to check out a volcano but fear it's too much for the kids by myself. Would you recommend any tours or go on your own?
I've read that we won't need a visa for a short visit but there seems to be another charge to pay before we leave??? Also, a travel agent I was speaking to mentioned a 'resort charge' of approx $25/person/day. That would really add up. I can't see it on the resort websites only a similar charge for hiring private cabanas or beach umbrella spots. Anyone else heard about this?
I am usually pretty happy to book everything myself, especially for simple trips. I just spontaneously visited a travel agent today because I was waiting nearby and saw their Hawaii posters. The TA was really talking up the benefits of using them but reading the fine print, it seems like they wouldn't be much help anyway. Are there pitfalls re Hawaii that I haven't anticipated?
Posted 29 November 2012 - 10:56 PM
I did 5 days in Waikiki and 4 in Maui and flew Jetstar over and Hawaiian Airlines coming home.
Honestly, I hated Hawaii. I'd never go back and I'd never recommend it. It was touristy, tacky and expensive in my experience. Everything is catered for the Japanese and if you weren't Japanese, no one was interested in your tourist $$. (That's how I felt the entire time I was there.) People would be on the street handing out brochure and the Japanese tourists in front and behind us were handed one but we were not even smiled at.
It looked really Japanese as well, shops, signs, restaurants etc. Funny enough, Japan is one of my absolute favourite countries in the entire world but I wasn't expecting the cheesy cheap neon tourist version in Hawaii.
As far as shopping though, there are plenty of outlet malls. Not as cheap as mainland US though. You wouldn't go to Hawaii to shop. I didn't do Pearl Harbor because it didn't interest me that much. I found our beaches much much nicer. I was expecting a beautiful coast line but didn't get it. I did a volcano tour on Maui but found it fairly dull. I wish I'd snorkeled instead which was another option I had that day.
I know others might disagree but I'd suggest Tahiti or the Maldives if you want a beautiful holiday and you're not that interested in shopping and you're over Phuket/Fiji/Bali etc.
Posted 30 November 2012 - 08:12 AM
And now for the more positive spin on it ...
Hawaii is my second home and it's taken 5 years of visiting there to become that way - although I did fall in love with it from the very beginning. In saying that, I spent longer than 5 days just in Waikiki and if that is the PP's experience, then it seems understandable that being only in Waikiki's tourist strip could have left her with the opinion she has of the islands.
While Hawaii (especially Waikiki) does embrace the Japanese tourists who flock to the islands for sun and sand, they also love everyone else. I have never had the experience the PP mentioned of being shunned in favour of Japanese tourists. I have always found Hawaiians open, friendly and approachable. As for the shopping, I finally made it to the mainland as well as Hawaii in April and the prices are pretty well the same. I hear all the time that prices are more expensive in Hawaii than the mainland but I'm yet to see it. Besides, compared with Australia, Hawaii is still super cheap. I tried to outlet shops but didn't find them to have the brands I wanted so I stick to the Ala Moana Mall about 15 minutes down the road from Waikiki itself and do my shopping there. Wal-Mart - though essentially thought to be tacky - is chock full of bargains, especially in the beauty section where make-up and hair products are about 1/3 of the price here. There is also a chain store named Ross selling last seasons clothes, shoes etc sent to them from the big name stores and I grab so much here for such a small amount. I usually get all my female rellies Guess bags as presents and they are around $15 - $30 each. Mind you, last season there is still current season here so it makes for great shopping.
There are endless amounts of things to do on each island and Waikiki Beach just underwent a sand renewal program while I was there in April so it's larger and cleaner than it was (not that I thought it was dirty to begin with). Yes, it's a tourist area but that's because it's beautiful so everyone goes there. There isn't any "neon" to taint your view as Waikiki has a strict no signage policy to keep the area looking fresh and tropical - and not have it turn into Las Vegas.
I've been to Oahu, Maui, the Big Island and Kauai and can recommend many things to do on each. The best way to see all the islands and get a taste of real Hawaii is to cruise on the Pride of America cruise ship which leaves Honolulu and returns to Honolulu. It's a 7 night cruise. I've done it 3 times and still love it. The other tip, if you stay on Oahu, don't be a typical tourist - see more than just Waikiki. Hire a car, driving there is easy. Or spend a whole $2.50 and take the number 55 bus around the whole island of Oahu and hop off at North Shore, Kohala and the West Coast and see more than the malls and Waikiki Beach.
Hawaii is amazing and I'm always sad to hear people didn't enjoy their time there. The Aloha spirit is beautiful, you just have to give yourself the chance to see it.
Check out my blog too, there's heaps of posts (I think in November 2011 on the side menu) about each individual island including Oahu so you can see what Waikiki is like and know what to expect should you decide to go.
To answer some of your q's:
Pearl Harbour is very moving and if you think your kids would understand what happened there and like to see it, it's child friendly.
You could hike Diamond Head Crater at the end of Waikiki Strip. It's a fairly simple hike and one which I've done 3 times now so if my dodgy knees can do it, I'm sure anyone can.
Sea Life Park is around from Diamond Head - on the way to Kohala - and you can catch a bus up there and swim with dolphins and sea lions. It's the marine park where 50 First Dates was filmed.
You could catch a shuttle to Hanauma Bay and snorkel in the most beautiful bay you will have ever seen. The fish in this bay are amazing and will swim right up to you.
There's the Dole Pineapple Plantation, Hawaii's pineapple grower. They have soft serve icecream in Pineapple flavour called Dole Whip which everyone raves about (not me, never tried it because I hate pineapple).
Of course there's also the typically Hawaiian luau you can also do. I did one on Maui that was beautiful and one on the island of Kauai that was a mix of a luau with cirque de soleil. It was incredible and moved me to tears.
If there's anything else you want to know, have a read on my blog or ask away on here.
I'm a little biased but wanted to give you a perspective from someone who took time to develop a love of the place and see more than one tourist area.
Hope I've helped.
ETA: You don't need an actual visa to go there, you will need a visa waiver and that is something you can apply for online yourself on the govt website - it's on my blog, a fairly recent blog post called "Aussies Going to Hawaii".
Edited by ~Kee~In~Hawaii~, 30 November 2012 - 08:18 AM.
Posted 30 November 2012 - 03:40 PM
We went to Hawaii last year and loved it!!
We did the pride of america cruise and I would totally recommend it. We had a great time. We hired cars at each port and did all the sights on each island.
We spent 8 days in waikiki after which was way too many days as we got a bit sick of fast food and was getting a bit bored. I think 5 days is heaps if just staying in waikiki. We went to the Ala Moana shopping centre - easy and cheap to get the trolley there.
We hired a car (although beware that hotels charge per night to park the car). We drove up to kualoa ranch and did a tour and had dinner there - would totally recommend it. We drove around the island one day just stopping along the way as well. We did pearl harbour and relaxed a lot.
We ate heaps at Denny's and the cheesecake factory.
You do need to get a visa waiver for each person (which does cost). I got them from the govt website. From memory you need to apply at least a few days before you travel.
ETA - We went to the Dole Pineapple plantation and had a pineapple icecream. It was so yummy - even the kids liked it and they don't eat pineapple.
Edited by Blossom11, 30 November 2012 - 03:42 PM.
Posted 02 December 2012 - 08:18 PM
Thanks for the replies. Good food for thought.
I was a regular to the Gold Coast so understand the Japanese directed marketing
I know we are spoilt for beautiful beaches in Australia so I don't really expect the same standards elsewhere. It's not just the natural beauty, but how our environmental protection laws also preserve what we have. I'm interested in experiencing a different culture and thought the Hawaiian one might be unique.
I know others might disagree but I'd suggest Tahiti or the Maldives if you want a beautiful holiday and you're not that interested in shopping and you're over Phuket/Fiji/Bali etc.
I haven't considered either of those places. What's the travel time like? The only time I've looked into the Maldives, it was for an anniversary trip so sans children. What are they like with kids?
Thanks for such a detailed reply Kee. I don't think I'm up for tackling any of the other islands with 2 young kids by myself. I'd like to just base ourselves in Waikiki and maybe do a few day trips, although we'll probably spend most of our time at the resort.
With car hire, what's the go regarding carseats? I don't think I'm up for public transport with little ones - yes, I'm a sook.
I'll keep in mind the 5 days is enough suggestion. What ages are your kids Blossom
Posted 02 December 2012 - 10:02 PM
My kids were 9 and 6 at the time. We bought a car seat from walmart when we got there as it was a lot cheaper to buy one then pay the hire fee at the hire company but it depends how long you hire a car for. I think it was $12 a day so for a couple of days it would be cheaper.We gave the carseat to a hotel employee who needed one when we left.
We did go to the zoo but it was very small so if you have little kids it would be ok. I wouldn't go again though.
The beach at Waikiki was ok - we didn't think it was as good as the Gold Coast beaches but the sunsets are absolutely gorgeous. Just like the pictures. On our drive around the island we found great beaches.
Posted 03 December 2012 - 11:01 AM
We went to Hawaii in September this year and loved most of it. The people were friendly, the weather was great (mid to late 20s and not humid), and the drivers courteous. We hired a car on the Big Island and on Maui, but didn't need one in Waikiki. Children 7/8 and under need a carseat by law. Our favourite island was the Big Island because that was the least touristy.
We flew over with Jetstar, which was the cheapest, even once you've added all the additional fees. You get what you pay for! We had to lug our bags from the domestic to the international terminal in Sydney, the iPads had a limited choice of entertainment (no iPads available if you hadn't prepaid), and the kids wouldn't eat the food (no kids meals). To top it off, we had to wait almost an hour in the check-in queue on the way back, early in the morning.
We spent about a week on the Big Island, splitting our time between a condo on the Kohala coast and a cottage in Volcano. There are beautiful and safe beaches on the Kohala coast, snorkelling further south, scenic mountain and coastal drives, and Volcanoes National Park has a great variety of walks and drives. We could have spent another day or two on the BI.
We spent about 6 days on Maui in Kihei, which for us was too long. We had already had lots of beach and snorkelling time on the BI. Maui has some cute but touristy plantation towns with old coloured wooden buildings and nice beaches. Makena beach has scary waves that break close to the shore, but it's fun to watch the local bodyboarders. We also did the twisty Road to Hana but found this nausea-inducing and over-rated.Our favourite place was Haleakala National Park, that had amazing scenery and walks. We did the part of the Sliding Sands trail, and Oheo Gulch and the waterfalls in the southern part of the park. Due to the altitude, the weather can change quickly there.
We finished up in Waikiki (6 days), which is quite different to the rest of Hawaii. This is where most of the Japanese tourists are, but we weren't treated differently. I didn't realise beforehand that Waikiki Beach is manmade and not continuous, and it is very crowded but safe for children. It's also a good place to learn surfing. There are lots of family-friendly eating places, eg California Pizza Kitchen, Chillis, Cheesecake Factory and Dennys (our least favourite), as well as a good choice of Asian and other cuisines. Ala Moana Mall has many different shops and the sale prices are just as good as the outlets. We also went to Waikele Factory Outlets, which is a day in itself. If you go to the outlets, the shopping centre across the road has a Walmart and carts with delicious shave ice and doughnuts.
While in Waikiki, we also did the hike up to Diamond Head, which has fabulous views. It is very exposed and hot though, and might be a bit much for the 2 yo. We spent a day at Pearl Harbour, after buying a combination pass and booking the USS Arizona memorial tour in advance online. Although I'm not into military stuff at all, I found Pearl Harbour interesting and more emotional than expected. The kids (7 and 9) also enjoyed it. Our pass included visits to the memorial, USS Missouri battleship, USS Bowfin submarine and the aviation museum. We expected we might have a spare day and visit some of the rest of Oahu, but all our time was spent in the Waikiki area.
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